I took a spiritual gifts assessment a few years back which basically told me that encouragement was my least prominent gift of any listed throughout Scripture. This is all to say that it is more likely you'll see me bust out speaking in tongues rather than see me give an encouraging word to someone.
The act of encouraging others is something I struggle with often as I feel incredibly uncomfortable saying something helpful to my peers. Sure, I can lend an ear, but if advice is wanted in return, I typically say, "you know who would be able to help you is...." or "hmm."
Not my proudest moments, but something I have just chalked up to, "well, it's not my gift."
And while it is not a gifting of mine, it is still not excused. I can't be mean to others just because I am not blessed with being naturally outspoken in this area. I have to instead work at utilizing this important part of life.
Everyone appreciates encouragement. I got a note in the mail from a customer the other day that just said "thanks for putting up with me." And while I was definitely annoyed during the time I worked with him and continually changed his design, I appreciated the note that recognized my effort. Last night I met with a friend who was saying how much it meant that a friend of hers who lives about a half hour away brought her dinner after hearing her grandma passed away. These small acts of kindness, if you will, mean so much to the ones you bless with them.
These acts not only encourage others, but show the love of Christ living through you. I cannot begin to tell you how often I feel awful for treating people the way I do, then saying I am a Christian. We should build one another up in love. And even if it is difficult to do, I think it is incredibly important.
With that said, here are 5 simple ways to be encouraging each day of this week:
Monday: TEXT a hello, thinking of you, hope you're well. These words are small but powerful reminders that you are thinking of someone in the mundane tasks that Mondays bring.
Tuesday: CALL someone. ok, I know this is taking it a step further in uncomfortable-zone, but in today's society where no one really picks up the phone, it's nice to even leave a voice mail to say hello. Who knows? Maybe your voice is exactly what they needed to hear that day.
Wednesday: CANDY! Stop by your friend's work and drop off their favorite candy bar. My husband has done this for me before and I can't tell you how it has brightened even my worst days. Even if they are a self-proclaimed health-nut, I bet they can't resist the temptation of a free, happy chocolate bar!
Thursday: WRITE a note. We have so many avenues for writing (facebook, twitter, emails, etc.) but wouldn't it be awesome to receive a hand-written note in the mail from a friend? Someone from our church has left me a note on our porch and it meant SO much that she took the time to literally pen out her thoughts and prayers for me.
Friday: HANG out with someone. Grab coffee, a beer, or whatever it is that you can chat over. Food brings us closer together as a community, so munch on some cookies and see what that person has been up to. Nothing has to come of it other than just lending an ear and showing you care.
Good luck as you attempt to be more encouraging to one another throughout the next week - I know it will be as much of a struggle for me, but it will mean so much to the one you are blessing :)